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Are nails needed for guitar exams?

classical guitar exams finger nails

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#16 michael N

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 15:11

Michael, in your experience how much difference would it make that at least some of these people are not using modern nylon strings? I don't know enough to even speculate!

 

They are using Gut or Nylgut - a synthetic equivalent. Oddly enough some Nail players also use Nylgut. It does make a difference but hardly night and day. The flesh players tend to use lower tension strings and strings that are less highly polished. That helps with the pad of the finger 'gripping' the string. Don't forget that the majority of players in the early part of the 19 th century did not use nails, that includes Sor - one of the giants of Guitar composition. Francisco Tarrega switched to playing without Nails late in his career, supposedly because he suffered some medical complaint that affected his nails. 

There are good no nail players who use a modern classical Guitar strung with Nylon. Not many but they do exist. There's a good example on U tube but I can't find her! she's on there somewhere. 

Although it's not 'modern technique' you certainly can play Classical Guitar without nails and to a very high level. It does take time and application to develop the technique. Switching from Nails to playing with flesh and you are highly unlikely to master it in just a few months. 


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#17 ten left thumbs

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Posted 03 January 2014 - 20:52

Thanks for that Michael! :)


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#18 Cauchy

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 20:16

Thanks Kate - that's very useful.  I'll have a play around.

 

"From the knuckle joint" - you've reminded me of the William Kanengiser DVD where he demonstrates that point by using his leg as the string and his arm as the finger!  I think I'll watch it again  :)


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#19 primrose

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 09:16

There are good no nail players who use a modern classical Guitar strung with Nylon. Not many but they do exist. There's a good example on U tube but I can't find her! she's on there somewhere. 

You may be thinking of Anne Mari Hagen, who has a number of gorgeous clips on YouTube. (Her right hand technique looks a bit odd -- little finger arched like a posh person drinking tea -- but I don't think that can be related to the nails issue.) My teacher says you should use nails because you can get a wider range of tone colours and dynamics, but if I thought I'd be able to play like Ms Hagen one day I might be tempted to try it. Nails are a pain: it's like playing the violin with a bow that changes shape every day.

 

You can read every conceivable opinion on the subject in the nails subforum of the Delcamp site.


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#20 Violalala

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 09:43

 

There are good no nail players who use a modern classical Guitar strung with Nylon. Not many but they do exist. There's a good example on U tube but I can't find her! she's on there somewhere. 

Nails are a pain: it's like playing the violin with a bow that changes shape every day.

 

 

 

With respect, not necessarily: I used to do a quick nail file and polish every day, which took about the same amount of time it now takes me to get my violin shoulder rest and bow out, put the tension in the bow and a bit of rosin. It's the same time it takes for my daughter to fiddle about getting her clarinet reed just right before she plays. You take care of your nails like they are a part of your musical instrument, and once you have experimented with the length and shape you like, you can keep them perfect and always the same shape with a minute's care before each practice.

A curled up sticky outy little finger can be a sign of tension; it should just hang next to your ring finger.


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#21 primrose

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:09

I'm sure that's right, once you've found the right length and shape, and a method of filing and polishing that works for you. But getting to that point seems to take forever. It's pretty frustrating if you file the nail slightly too short (or, as I just have, inadvertently shortened it by polishing it) and have to wait a week for it to grow back.


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#22 michael N

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 20:35

Yes, Anne Mari Hagen is the one I was referring to earlier. She does sound like she is playing with Nails, although going by recordings and U-tube clips is not a good way to judge tone. Not at all. Musicality is a different matter. 

The little finger issue can apply to both Nail and flesh players.

Anyway. I hope that the idea that it's Nails or nothing has been laid to rest. Unfortunately far too many people view things like this in absolute terms, as though there is no other way and that there can only ever be one school or method. Far better to embrace the diversity. I guess if it wasn't for the Baroque specialists we wouldn't have the opportunity to listen to players like Podger. I'm perfectly happy to have that opportunity, rather than someone telling me that the Baroque Violin set up etc. should be confined to history. Sometimes things are 'different' rather than the absolute of being 'better'.

 


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